Trial of Murderer of Rabbi Itamar Ben-Gal, Hy”d, Gets Underway

YERUSHALAYIM -
Rabbi Itamar Ben-Gal, Hy”d, at the bris of his son in 2017. (Yitzchak Melamed)

The trial of Abd Al Hakim Adel A’asi, the murderer of Rabbi Itamar Ben-Gal, Hy”d, began on Wednesday. Rabbi Ben-Gal was murdered last February in a terror stabbing attack near Ariel in central Shomron. Rabbi Ben-Gal had been waiting at a bus stop, and A’asi had just gotten out of a taxi. He crossed the highway and attacked Rabbi Ben-Gal using two knives he was holding, stabbing his victim in the upper body. Rabbi Ben-Gal, realizing what had happened, ran away, pursued by the terrorist. He managed to signal to a bus driver that he had been stabbed, and when the driver got off the bus and security officials began pursuing him, the terrorist ran in the other direction.

An IDF officer saw him running with the knives in his hand, and used his vehicle to slam the terrorist. He knocked the terrorist down, but he managed to get up. The officer knocked the terrorist down again, but again he got up. A’asi, who was identified from security camera footage, ran into the Arab village of Kifl Haris, across the highway from Ariel. Israeli security forces found him six weeks after the murder in Shechem.

A’asi, 19, is an Israeli citizen. Records show that A’asi, who had been living in Jaffa in recent years, had been a drifter who did not complete high school. He was known to social service agencies in Haifa and Tel Aviv, and had been homeless for a time. A’asi once lived for several weeks at a Tel Aviv shelter for homeless youth, but left after he was warned by administrators to stop visiting his father in Shechem, where he would go every few weeks.

In a statement, the Haifa Municipality said that social service officials were familiar with A’asi’s situation. “He was a homeless youth and addicted to illicit substances. Over the years there were attempts to help this youth, who was rejected by his parents. We provided him with several housing and rehabilitation options, but he chose to end his engagement with the programs each time he started one,” the Municipality said.

But Chaim Bleicher of the Honenu organization, who is representing Rabbi Ben-Gal’s family, said that A’asi was not a “disadvantaged youth,” but a “cruel terrorist who murdered a man in cold blood. We will do everything possible to ensure that everyone remembers who is the victim and who is the murderer, and that no one should think of giving this terrorist a break because of his situation, as had happened in other cases.”